In a letter to President Obama on Monday, former Colorado Public Utility Commissioner Ron Binz withdrew his name from further consideration as chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
His nomination proved to be highly controversial and was met with resistance by many members of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. In his letter, Binz thanked President Obama for his “support of climate legislation and regulation” and for his “selection of strong leaders for the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy.” He noted, “Although the FERC does not have a direct role in climate issues, its policies are essential components that allow other policies to work.”
Binz’s nomination seemed to be doomed from the start despite a highly unusual public relations campaign to promote his chances. While Binz appeared to have the necessary background, his actions while serving as the Chairman of the Colorado Public Utilities Commission were perceived as being unfriendly to the coal and natural gas industries.
During his confirmation hearing, Binz committed to working with committee members on speeding up and improving natural gas pipeline permitting, and pointed out that he would have no role in choosing whether utilities use coal, natural gas, renewables or any other fuel to generate electricity, but at that point, the deck was already stacked against him.
Although a new nomination has not yet been formally announced, some observers are speculating that current FERC commissioner Cheryl LaFleur will be tapped to lead the agency, at least on an interim basis.
—Aaron Larson, associate editor (@POWERmagazine, @AaronL_Power)